Malta-24 – News Briefing – Tuesday 16th June 2020

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Updated 1233 – Six new cases of coronavirus in Malta

Health authorities said there were six new cases of coronavirus in Malta during the past 24 hours, taking the country’s tally to 656. 1,236 swab tests were taken during the same period. Two of the cases reported today form part of the cluster, while the other four were described as sporadic.

Five patients have recovered, meaning there are now 39 active cases.

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Government has officially lifted Malta’s public health emergency warning, as the authorities repeal a raft of legal notices which introduced restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.  Timesofmalta.com reports that legal notices introduced late on Monday mean controls on social gatherings, the opening of schools or the law courts and suspensions of legal times will no longer remain in force at the end of the emergency, scheduled for the end of the month.

This will also mean that schools will also be permitted to reopen in September.

In a separate legal notice, Government has enabled travel to and from 22 countries from the beginning of next month.

The countries are Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Italy (except Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Piemonte), France, (except Ile-de-France), Slovakia, Switzerland, Greece, Croatia, Spain, (except Madrid, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, Castile and Leon) and Poland.

Prime Minister Robert Abela said last weekend that any restrictions to all other destinations will be lifted by July 15.

The removal of legal notices also removes any limits on organised events and on the number of people in public spaces.

Despite the removal of these restrictions, Health Minister Chris Fearne yesterday recommended against holding large events such as feasts and weddings.

Updated 0914 – Newspaper Review

The Times leads with an interview with former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar who admitted that it was a mistake to meet with an acquaintance of Melvin Theuma without informing investigators but said he did so to ensure that evidence would be saved.

The Independent reports that the magistrate presiding over the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech in the Caruana Galizia case has ordered a formal investigation into former police chief Lawrence Cutajar.

In-Nazzjon says that the formal order by Magistrate Rachel Montebello to investigate Lawrence Cutajar came after a request by lawyer Jason Azzopardi who is representing the Caruana Galizia family in the case.

L-Orizzont quotes Health Minister Chris Fearne who warned that the coronavirus is still active in the community and asked people to observe social distancing. He said that mass events should be avoided.

The Times follows the witness in court of Yorgen Fenech associate Johann Cremona who claimed that middleman Melvin Theuma was receiving information about the Caruana Galizia investigation by the Police Commissioner.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Adrian Delia who criticised Prime Minister Robert Abela for appointing Lawrence Cutajar as a government consultant hours later he was made to resign from Police Commissioner earlier this year.

The Independent says that the Planning Authority has published a new development brief for the former Jerma Hotel site in Marsascala. The outline envisages a development density of not more that 65,000 square meters, a reduction from earlier proposals.

L-Orizzont carries a statement by PL MEP Josianne Cutajar who said that comments by PN official Louis Galea were an insult to people with cancer. Galea likened problems within the party in government to a cancer spread.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to be pushed to the secondary pages with further developments coming out from Malta’s Courts related to the hearings as part of the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech, accused of planning the killing of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017. In particular, it was announced that former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar will be investigated after being accused of tipping off murder middleman Melvin Theuma.

This has however not reduced online debate on further developments in terms of social restrictions on the islands. On Sunday, the Prime Minister had indicated that the public emergency would be removed, and with it so would other legal notices imposing social distancing regulations particularly in retail outlets.  Yet, at a press conference yesterday, Health Minister Chris Fearne appeared to strike a more vigilant tone, recalling that the virus is still a threat and vigilance, and therefore social distancing would still be required.

Consequently, Fearne added that village feasts and weddings were still not recommended.

CDE News

 

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